Thanks to books, movies, and television, extramarital affairs and cheating have taken on an absolutely mythic quality. People have all kinds of ideas — some correct, some completely false — about why spouses cheat, who they choose as partners, how cheating affects a marriage, and just about everything else.
The #1 Myth is that everybody has affairs. The statistics about marital infidelity are staggering (some studies show that 60% of spouses cheat at one time or another in their marriage). But what the statistics don’t reveal is that the people having affairs are generally engaged in “exit affairs,” relationships that occur at the end of a marriage that has already failed. So “everybody” is really “everybody in a bad marriageÃ¢â‚¬Â).
What Doesn’t Kill Us Makes Us Strong
Another myth is that affairs are good for a marriage. Needless to say this myth is very popular with cheaters who tell themselves that an affair will “spice up” a dull marriage. Affairs don’t add spice, they add acid — destroying trust and frequently damaging relationships beyond repair.
You Don’t Love Me Anymore
When they learn that their spouses are cheating, some people believe the myth that an affair is proof that no love is left in the marriage. Affairs are begun for many reasons, not the least of which is sexual gratification. Instead of trying to replace their marriage partner Ã¢â‚¬â€œ spouses are more likely to be searching for something to supplement the partner, to provide something they think is missing from their marriage.
The Devil Made Me Do It
One of the most dangerous myths is that the spouse who has been betrayed is responsible for the affair. The “look what you made me do” is a popular defense mechanism for cheaters who want to shift blame for their actions. But cheating is a choice. Although it’s possible to drive someone out of a relationship, seeking out a new relationship is totally on the shoulders of the cheater. It’s just easier for the cheater to blame someone else than to admit to wrongdoing.
The Ostrich Approach
When confronted with something frightening, a child will close his/her eyes and say, “If I ignore it, maybe it will go away.” Sadly, people whose partners are having an affair often have the same reaction. There are two reasons this is such a destructive myth. First, secrecy allows an affair to continueÃ¢â‚¬Â¦and may even fuel its success by providing the lovers with the excitement of “our little secret.” Second, until the affair is acknowledged, its underlying causes can’t be determined, addressed, and resolvedÃ¢â‚¬Â¦if only through divorce.
It’s All Over
A divorce is not the only option available to a couple that is struggling with infidelity. For some, the best way to deal with marital infidelity is to “forgive and forget”. If the partners can communicate openly to deal constructively with their conflicts, it is possible to find resolution within the marriage.